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Since 1st March, 1999
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6 killed in Iraq rebel attack on Spanish team

Baghdad, Nov. 29 (Reuters): Six people were killed and one wounded today when guerrillas attacked a convoy of Spanish intelligence officers south of Baghdad, a Spanish defence ministry spokesman said. The spokesman had no information about the eighth member of the group.

Sky reporter David Bowden said from Baghdad after returning from the scene that he saw four bodies and that local people said eight were killed in total and another two people taken prisoner.

The ambush came hours after the top military commander in Iraq said attacks against US forces had fallen sharply in recent weeks, despite figures showing November to be the deadliest month for US troops since the war began. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said anti-American insurgents had struck fewer times in the past seven days than in the previous week and put the reduction down to the more aggressive tactics used by US forces.

The Sky reporter said of the attack on the Spaniards: “We were actually driving from the town of Hilla, which is just south of Baghdad, and we saw these men lying dead on the floor (ground) by the side of the road after the ambush.

“We were told by locals there that... about 30 minutes before, they’d attacked a convoy of three vehicles. They pulled the people out of the vehicles. They told us that in fact they’d killed eight people and they’d captured two others.

“I only saw with my own eyes four dead bodies on the road.

“We filmed for a couple of minutes and then we became the focus of the mob’s attention. They were shouting praise to Saddam (Hussein) and we disappeared pretty quickly.”

Just over two weeks ago, 19 Italians were killed in an attack on a military police barracks in southern Iraq, the worst military disaster for Italy since World War two.

In his Baghdad news conference, Sanchez said the US military was reshaping its forces in Iraq to rotate in more mobile units and ship out heavy armour such as tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. “In the past 14 days, we have seen the daily average of engagements throughout the country decline by over 30 percent,” he said.

“And over the last seven-day period, we’re down to an average of 22 engagements a day,” he said, against as many as 50 a day just a couple of weeks ago.

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